Zuckerberg: Facebook content should be regulated, but under a new model

At the Munich Security Conference, the Facebook exec pitches a system of regulating harmful content that's somewhere between a newspaper and a telco.

Michelle Meyers
Michelle Meyers wrote and edited CNET News stories from 2005 to 2020 and is now a contributor to CNET.
Michelle Meyers
2 min read

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks Saturday at the Munich Security Conference.

Tobias Hase/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agrees that his company should be regulated when it comes to harmful content on its social networks. But there needs to be a new framework for doing so that puts Facebook somewhere between a publisher and a utility in terms of responsibility, he told government and security officials on Saturday.

"Right now there are two frameworks that I think people have for existing industries -- there's like newspapers and existing media, and then there's this telco-type model, which is 'the data just flows through you,'" he said during a question and answer session at the Munich Security Conference, which Reuters earlier reported.  "But you're not going to hold a telco responsible if someone says something harmful on a phone line."

Facebook "should be somewhere in between," Zuckerberg added.

Social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google have been confronting the specter of government oversight after high-profile scandals involving hate speechelection meddlingleaks of customer data and other problems.

Zuckerberg has previously said he welcomes regulation and last spring floated the idea of forming industrywide groups that would establish guidelines and ensure that companies meet them.

Meanwhile, ahead of the US presidential election in November, Facebook says it's invested heavily in fighting disinformation and has 35,000 people working on safety and security issues.

Zuckerberg's comments followed statements released earlier in the week, in which he acknowledged the social network is ready to pay higher taxes in Europe. Facebook and other large digital tech companies, including Amazon and Google, are under pressure from countries around the world for not paying what is perceived to be their share of taxes since they're only required to pay tax on their profits in companies where they have physical headquarters.

Facebook declined to comment on Zuckerberg's Saturday talk.

Originally published Feb. 16, 10:28 a.m. PT.
Update, 12:18 p.m.: Adds Facebook declining to comment; 3:06 p.m.: Adds link to Zuckerberg's speech and clarifies the context of statements released earlier this week about taxes in Europe.

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